Haaretz Editorial from the day Israel was born
Our foes have not yet begun to wield their full might against us. Harsh times and bitter auguries lie in store for us. Many have already fallen, but many more will fall, and the boundaries between front and rear will become blurred. The great test still awaits us and we must all meet it.
Haaretz Editorial, May 14, 1948
Today is the world’s birthday for Israel. Today is the end of one period, and today is the onset of a new period. Today is the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Mandate for which the Jewish people held out tremendous hopes – almost messianic hopes – a quarter of a century ago, but which over the years came to symbolize a great moral failure. Today marks the expiration of the White Paper, that shameful document, which tried vainly to cloak in legal garb the vast betrayal of the historic rights of the Jewish people, but which in its nine years of existence succeeded in closing the gates of the country to tens and hundreds of thousands of Jews who could have been saved from the Nazi furnaces.
Today Hebrew independence has been revived on the soil of Israel after 1,900 years of exile. In the course of that lengthy period, the face of the world changed, the face of this land changed and so, too, the face of the Jewish people changed. But the bond between the people and its land was not severed, and today, as thousands of years ago, our ancient and rejuvenated nation, after an unexampled period of subjugation and suffering, sets about laying the foundations for a life of freedom and independence on its soil. And today we enter a new stage, a stage of heightened danger, in our desperate struggle with the neighboring Arab peoples, who have so far refused to accept the historic necessity of Israel’s return to its land.
Hebrew independence is not being renewed during an hour of mercy. Nor are we being measured with strict justice by the [UN] General Assembly or in the councils of the world’s rulers. We are not begging for the world’s mercy and are not fearful of its judgment. But it is our obligation to protest against the harsh perversion of justice, in which attempts were made to heap obstacles on the path of a persecuted nation that aspired to a tranquil haven. It was just half a year ago that this world, the world of power and materialism, sat in judgment of us, and despite everything, despite the intriguing and the scheming, we were exonerated. But the world of material power lacked the moral strength to execute its own judgment, and schemers and plotters of all types tried to abnegate it.
And on this day, when we shall declare our right according to the world’s judgment, which was not undermined and was not annulled, we must perforce do so in a hostile atmosphere. Great nations view us as an uninvited guest as we seek to take our place at the table of the nations. But no other path is available to us. Just as we reached our present status with our own might alone, so we must continue to conquer our state with our own might, in the hope and confidence that the world of power will accept us when it sees that we, too, possess the strength to safeguard what is ours.
But the campaign will be very difficult. These days of supreme heroism and self-sacrifice of the highest degree in the Etzion Bloc and at Sha’ar Hagai must teach us that the strength of our foes is not yet depleted. To the contrary: Our foes have not yet begun to wield their full might against us. Harsh times and bitter auguries lie in store for us. Many have already fallen, but many more will fall, and the boundaries between front and rear will become blurred. The great test still awaits us and we must all meet it. We cannot fight our war through the proxy of angels and messengers. Each of us must do his duty in the same part of the front in which he can make the greatest contribution to the struggle of the entire nation.
Great is the day, but exceedingly grave the hour. May we all display the valor, the readiness for sacrifice, the psychological stability amid the vicissitudes of the campaign, the faithfulness in doing our duty and the spirit of Israeli fraternity thanks to which we shall reach our sought-after destination.
And if we meet the test and are thus privileged, this day, a day of blood and pillars of smoke, shall be the day on which we lay the foundations for a life of security and liberty for ourselves and for our children.